Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Optimist, Arresting

It's hard to be an optimist when you're drowning in shit. That's true isn't it, and more importantly, if anything that is could be said to be more important than truth, it's arresting. But why, if for the sake of argument, or the lack of argument rather, we agree to say it is arresting, why so is arresting so important, or if not so important, more important - than truth? Well, to at least to hazard a guess as to why . . . If say you were trying to grab some reader or would-be reader's attention quick before he - by which I also mean she - but before he anyway moved on to something else, to some say neighbouring book, well you could hardly do better in stopping him in his tracks than come up with a line like that, that first one above. That would stop anyone, and of course while truth is all well and good, well but if you haven't got anybody reading all the truth then what would be the point? It might as well be truthless. Who'd know the difference?

Though having said all that - and precisely maybe because of probably having said all that - maybe I've gone and spoiled the effect of that line, its capacity to arrest which is as said it seems so vital. There we'll say this alluded to above reader to be was ambling through town, here a coffee shop, there a bookshop, time on his hands, plucks some book casually, without thinking from a shelf, maybe it has a nice cover, all is calm, nothing out of the ordinary . . . but then suddenly and without preamble, shockingly abrupt, was this line speaking so resoundingly such a fearsome truth: "It's hard to be an optimist when you're drowning in shit." Shivers down the spine, an electric shock, an awful but also, dare one admit it, beautiful recognition, such a moment, a kindred spirit speaking from the depths, those unspoken depths, an epiphany . . . But then what follows this fearful, fearless line but digressions, explanations . . . Was he serious at all, it's hard to know where you are . . .
But then that's hardly my problem, is it - you not knowing where you are.

But so anyway that line, drowning in shit and the lack of optimism - however serious it might be and and however that might be measured - its seriousness I mean. Well it's gloomy isn't it, not very uplifting, but perhaps yes true. Perhaps?! How can there be any perhaps about it! Of course it's hard to be an optimist if you're drowning in shit. What's there to be optimistic about?! "It'll be all over soon." It's not so bad once you get used to it." "Maybe somebody'll pull me out." I suppose you could argue along one or other of those lines all right, though I can't say I'm too convinced. But regardless, and this is maybe the essence of the thing, where would literature be without gloominess and the like? Maybe it wouldn't be anywhere. And isn't that the point. Literature needs stresses, conflicts, gloom, whatever to provide momentum, dynamics, energy. You can hardly keep going long with clouds and daffodils without losing whatever readers you may have been lucky enough to pick up along the way. Or maybe you can, in poetry at least, keep them, readers, some of them, abreast while you keep going on about clouds and daffodils, but outside of poetry, no, clouds and daffodils aren't enough. You need conflicts, divergences from the idyllic - and look around, you'd hardly have to make them up, divergences, out of thin air.

But what about the Olympics?! you cry, referring I suppose to the idyllic again and presumably implying the triumph of some higher dreams about which one could and without shame. . .
I wandered, I might venture to say, lonely as someone who couldn't give a .... about the Olympics.

I apologise of course for that cheap ending but I'm in a rush and it did have to end, and well it was some kind of a way out anyway.

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